Musa spp. (Musaceae family)
Origin: SE Asia
Fruiting season: year round
Height: tall herbaceous (10 – 20 ft)
The banana is the largest flowering herbaceous plant in the world. Its stem is made of tightly overlapping leaves. Each plant normally produces a single flower cluster known as a “heart”. The fruits develop from the banana heart in a large hanging cluster. After fruiting, the plant dies with new offshoots emerging from its base.
Banana fruits are variable in size, color, and firmness, and the rind (peel) may be green, yellow, red, blue, purple, or brown when ripe. There are over 1000 varieties that vary in color, size, texture and taste. The flesh is creamy with different levels of sugar and starch depending on the variety.
One of the best varieties in Hawaii is ‘Dwarf Apple’ which is smaller, sweeter, creamier and more aromatic than the common, Cavendish variety. ‘Dwarf Apple’ bananas are excellent for dehydrating as they do not brown in the process.